The creator of 'True Detective' kept the finale a secret from the cast for most of season 3's production

Warrick Page/HBO‘True Detective.’
  • “True Detective” creator Nic Pizzolatto didn’t reveal to the cast the script for the finale until midway through production, according to star Stephen Dorff.
  • Dorff said when he and the cast did get it they were blown away by how it would end.
  • “Nic went to a deeper level and didn’t want to do a bunch of tricks,” Dorff told Business Insider.


Warning: Spoilers if you haven’t watched the season 3 finale of “True Detective.”

It turns out the audience weren’t the only ones in suspense about how season 3 of HBO’s “True Detective” would end. The actors were too.

Despite being in Arkansas last year for seven months shooting the season, for a good portion of that time, many on set had no clue what the ending was. That’s because the show’s creator and writer, Nic Pizzolatto, didn’t hand it out to the cast until midway through production, according to one of its stars, Stephen Dorff.

“We were knee deep into the shooting without really knowing where it was heading,” Dorff, who played detective Roland West in the season, told Business Insider days after the season finale aired Sunday. “We were guessing just like the audience was. I didn’t know if I was going to die. I had no idea what was going to happen.”

Dorff said he believed Pizzolatto did have an idea what was going to happen, it just took him a while to get it all on the page. He recalled that before getting the script, Pizzolatto would give him teases of what Roland would do in the episode.

“He told me he wrote the bar scene and the dog scene,” Dorff said, referring to a major sequence for Roland in the finale that highlights his frustration with not solving the Purcell case and the origin of his love for dogs that we see when he’s in his 70s. “It was an extra gift for me in a way because it was such a cool sequence.”

True Detective S3 2 HBOHBORoland makes a friend.

Dorff said when he finally got his hands on the script he was completely floored by how Pizzolatto wanted to close the story.

“I love the scene where Mahershala (who plays detective Wayne Hays) is with Julie and doesn’t know where he is,” Dorff said. “It’s so hard to watch but that little note with the address that Ray [Risher, who plays Henry Hays] puts in his pocket, that’s so good. Nic went to a deeper level and didn’t want to do a bunch of tricks. I remember my Dad said to me, ‘I really wanted more closure I wanted to see Roland and Wayne with Julie.’ And I was like, ‘Dad, that’s the Disney version.'”

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Dorff said Roland was the best role he’s ever gotten and admits it’s been hard to get out of character.

“I was kind of stuck because I really connected to Roland in a way that I never had in my career,” he said. “At 45 this was the perfect part for me in my life. I really don’t know how all this happened. I came in the last minute and Nic gave it to me. After some bad things that have happened in my life I wasn’t in a great place, and the thing that I needed most was to be around a great group of people and have a great part to act in. That’s what Nic gave me, and I will always be thankful to him for doing that.”

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